‘Global Warming’ Leaves Americans Cold…and More Quick Energy Efficiency News for this Week

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energy efficiency newsQuick energy efficiency news for this week…

We’ll have to ditch the terms “global warming” and “climate change” if we want to advance U.S. energy and environmental policy. Research presented in the book, Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think About Energy in the Age of Global Warming, conducted in conjunction with the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), finds that most Americans look at energy as they would any other consumer products – they care most about financial cost and local environmental harm; refer to climate policy in the vast global sense, and you’ve lost them.

They also want the best of both worlds: more renewable energy without the price tag. “People get costs right for traditional fuels,” said co-author David Konisky, “but they’re optimistic about [the cost of] renewables.” As the book title suggests, they want energy that is both cheap and clean.

For a new approach to energy and climate change policy, the authors suggest speaking to people’s immediate concerns with policies targeting both local pollutants and carbon emissions. More at MIT News.

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Energy efficiency proved to be a smart conservation and business strategy for U.S. manufacturers, who saved an estimated $2.4 billion in cumulative energy costs over the last five years. Under the DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, US manufacturers and water/wastewater treatment agencies committed to improving energy intensity by 25 percent over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector. Nine Better Plants partners have met their energy efficiency targets this year, joining 16 others who had already met them.

Over the last five years, Better Plants partners have maintained an average annual energy intensity improvement rate of about 2.1 percent (well above the industry rate), for a cumulative energy savings of 450 trillion BTUs, an estimated $2.4 billion in cost savings, and some 27 million metric tons of climate-changing carbon emissions avoided – equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from seven coal-fired power plants.

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Energy efficiency is critical to national energy security, cost and environmental goals, according to the second Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) from the DOE and White House OST. The review, (which is as enormous as it sounds), is a worthwhile read for those interested in the future of energy efficiency technologies.

Among the other trends pointed out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: increasing interdependence among all sectors of the economy; a shift toward diversified, distributed resources; and a new era of “systems by design” through computing power and simulation.

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Cloud-based software platform Opower hit a major analytics milestone, with 500 billion meter reads worldwide, widening its data lead into the utility space. “No one comes close to handling the scale of information that our systems process on a daily basis,” said CEO and co-founder Dan Yates, “…it’s access to this huge quantity of data that enables us to help utilities give their customers customized insights about their energy use.”

Opower processes more than 40 percent of all U.S. residential energy consumption data and nearly two-thirds of AMI data. Its Opower 6 platform uses energy data from more than 57 million customers aggregated from more than 95 utilities across four continents.

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How’s this for motivating students: one million bucks. Governor Cuomo launched a clean energy competition for New York State colleges and universities as part of the REV Campus Challenge. The three groups with the most innovative and ambitious ideas to aggressively reduce greenhouse gases, and increase renewables and energy efficiency on campus will each win $1 million to help implement their plans.

The governor’s announcement comes as part of NYU’s Know Tomorrow Day of Action, a student-led campaign on climate change.

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SolarCity says it’s now number one in the competition for the ever more efficient solar panel.

At 22 percent plus efficiency, the new panel generates more power per square foot and harvests more energy over a year than any other in production. It will be the highest volume solar panel manufactured in the Western Hemisphere, according to the company.

SolarCity plans to begin manufacturing  in small quantities this month at a 100-MW pilot facility. But most of the new panels will ultimately be produced at SolarCity’s 1 GW facility in Buffalo, New York. SolarCity expects to be producing between 9,000 – 10,000 solar panels each day with similar efficiency when the Buffalo facility reaches full capacity.

The company says that the new panel is the same size as standard efficiency solar panels, but produces 30-40 percent more power and performs better than other modules in high temperatures.

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